I’m not a huge fan of Gambit, I’m going to just put it out there right now and accept all your dirty judgmental looks. How dare I not love the ragin’ cajun with his slick charm and bad boy awesomeness? Well, quite frankly, I find him to be one note and boring, and unless the writer is extremely skilled, he ends up being just a bunch of hackneyed cliches. He’ll steal something, he’ll call some girl ‘Petite’, he’ll lie charmingly, and he’ll charge a card with pretty pink light and explode it at an opportune moment. Yay, Gambit.
I realize that pretty much could be said for any comic book character for the most part. Batman will lurk on rooftops silhouetted by the always full moon. Lois Lane will fall out of a building and Superman will save her. Wolverine will glory hog on five different teams, and do something ridiculous like regenerate his entire body from a drop of blood because he is the coolest mutant ever!!! Yeah, let’s face it. Comic book characters aren’t really all that complex so what matters is the story. Unfortunately, that’s where this book fails.
The premise here is fairly simple. A bored Gambit decides to crash a party thrown by a mutant hating socialite who has a fondness for collecting superhero-y artifacts, and steal one for himself. I imagine it is supposed to be something significant, but after this initial reading, I, for the life of me, can’t remember what he was going to steal. There’s a few half hearted jabs at his genetic status, a pretty lady for him to flirt with who comes in handy when he needs an alibi, and some absolutely ridiculous thievery tools that only work in comic books or James Bond movies. The caper depends on rather forced events to happen, and honestly the book sort of reads like fan fiction from someone who doesn’t know the character all that well. I’m not familiar with James Asmus’s work, though Wikipedia and ComicVine tell me he wrote a play called “Hearts of Blood” that won an award at the NYC Fringe Festival. How exactly he went from that to writing unspectacular comics is a mystery to me, and frankly, I’m not all that motivated to go to the effort of finding out.
The art though is a different story all together. Penciler Clay Mann, along with Inker (and twin brother) Seth Mann and Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg have created a very visually appealing book, with smooth rounded figures in a rich color pallet that is neither to light nor too heavy. The storytelling is easy to follow, and if there is any flaw, I’d suppose, there is a certain degree of static posing to the characters even in action sequences. Everyone, even when running for their life, seems to be very concerned with how they look as they escape calamity.
The whole book seems to be created by amateurs, talented newcomers maybe, but inexperienced nonetheless. It’s not a bad attempt at starting a new title at the cusp of this Marvel Now! nonsense. I don’t see a need to keep buying it, at the moment, but if some of these new-rebooted-but-not-rebooted books over at the House of (Bad) Ideas turn out the way I expect them too, Gambit might just end up being the cream of the crop.
Writer: James Asmus
Penciler: Clay Mann